We know, from paintings by William Light, George French Angas and others, and the journals kept by early settlers, that the area we now know as the Fleurieu, was not all heavily wooded, but interspersed with trees forming grassy woodlands. These trees provided corridors and shelter for birds and other fauna. Our intention has been to create an environment similar to this by planting interspersed Paddock Trees in our grazing paddocks as a haven for the local fauna and shelter for the cattle.

The following is an opening paragraph from the article Paddock trees: Why they are worth saving by Mason Crane, Research Officer, Australian National University.
“Paddock trees are considered a ‘keystone’ structure in agricultural landscapes around the world. This means that they have a disproportional influence on how the environment functions. In Australia, paddock trees have been shown to enhance water infiltration and soil quality. They also have a disproportionately high value for biodiversity, providing superior habitat to other vegetation in the landscape for many species. Much of this can be attributed to the great age and size of these trees; not only do they provide habitat in their own right, but they can also increase the biodiversity value of other nearby habitats, such as tree plantings and small remnant patches”

Another comprehensive article is A Landscape Approach to Determine the Ecological Value of Paddock Trees by Land & Water Australia and the South Australian Native Vegetation Council 2004.

Since 2013 Rob has been working on a design of a guard for the paddock trees that will withstand the curiosity and strength of cattle. What he has arrived at we call the ‘Alcatraz’. The principal concept is the connecting of three droppers in a trianglar shape combined with sturdy metal mesh. When cattle push against any area, the force is distributed between the three droppers. This provides the rigidity which two or three unconnected droppers cannot provide.

The Alcatraz Timeline details the previous versions with pictures showing how these earlier attempts worked, or didn’t, and some images of successfully growing paddock trees.

We have been using Version 7.1 of the Alcatraz successfully since November 2017, and this is hopefully our final version. In January 2019 we planted our 90th paddock tree.

We often ask visitors if they would like to plant a paddock tree to mark their visit so that they can watch it grow over the years.

And we have planted some other special commemorative trees …

Updated 31 Jul 2019